“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the spring.” — Aldo Leopold
If we’re shipping the March issue to the printer, and you’re reading the March issue of the magazine right now, then March is finally on the horizon. In the Northeast that brings a mixed few weeks of leaden skies and dirty, icy slush, with an occasional snowstorm of epic proportions. March is winter with a tranquilizer dart in its haunches — it’s going down but not without a fight.
No matter: It is also the unavoidable gauntlet we must run to arrive at spring and — for many a boater — a time to stretch deeply, wipe the sleep from our eyes and put on some real pants. It’s as though we had accidentally joined nature in a sort of hibernation to survive these landlocked months. We have binge-watched Netflix, overate our way through the holidays, read a couple of books and maybe even escaped for a week to a beach somewhere. In other words, right after the boat was hauled, back in October or November, we set our autopilots for spring and went below for a quick nap.
Well, wakey-wakey! It’s time to get that punch-list going and make the most of the next few months. The smartest among us gave the boatyard a slew of chores last fall or have ourselves labored doggedly through the winter to arrive, triumphant, at the edge of spring with a boat that’s ready to splash. The rest of us will try and catch up or wait our turn at the boatyard, hoping our procrastination hasn’t eaten into the boating season. Again.
I have only one thing on my list this year, but it’s major: I need a new outboard. A 50-hp 2-stroke should be just the ticket. And while I’m at it, I may have the transom repaired — it’s torqued away from the hull, probably because of the old, 70-hp 4-stroke it’s been carrying for 20 years.
With dependable power, I can’t imagine wanting for anything else. In fact, the longer I have my West Pointer 18, the happier I am about it. It took me awhile to work my way down from a 30-ton, 40-foot steel boat (that was once perfect for me) to an 18-foot wooden center console (that is perfect for me now).
That’s one of the great joys of our pastime: There are so many boats — so many styles, build types, construction methods, layouts, power options, hull shapes. Finding and modifying the perfect one for what you need at any given point can be the evolving and joyous work of a lifetime. It’s one reason we never outgrow our passion.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue.